Parents plan to have less children due to spiralling childcare costs

New research from smart money app Plum has laid bare the painful choices parents are having to make in the wake of spiralling childcare bills.

  • 2 out of 3 parents are delaying having or will not have another child due to high childcare costs.
  • A similar proportion also say high costs have affected their working habits.
  • A third have cut down on saving and investing to afford childcare.
  • Plum together with the NDNA, LEYF and others are campaigning for better childcare provision and support.

Close to 2 out of 3 parents (63%) are reconsidering whether or when to have another child in the face of these high costs.

The study of parents with children aged 0-4, conducted on behalf of Plum by Research Without Borders, concluded more than a third (37%) have found it so difficult to afford childcare that they wouldn’t have another child.

A further quarter (26%) would wait longer until having another child due to the cost, showing starkly how financial pressures are impacting life choices.

The research also showed the impact the cost of childcare is having on the workplace:

  • 2 out of 3 (64%) parents say it has affected their family’s working habits.
  • More than 1 in 3 (38%) have reduced hours or stopped working completely due to expensive childcare.
  • Meanwhile, nearly three quarters (70%) said they would work more if childcare was available for free.

In light of these challenges, Plum is urging the Government in an Open Letter to prioritise childcare and deliver more comprehensive support for early years education.

Rajan Lakhani, Head of Money at Plum, comments: “As a parent of two young children, I have seen first-hand the challenges people are facing with the cost and availability of childcare and the financial impact on working families. It’s also something our customers here at Plum are finding very hard to navigate, as many of them are parents”.

“Our research has found that extending free childcare would help a large majority of parents either return to work or increase their hours. Getting these parents back into work could be key to boosting Government revenues at a difficult time for the country’s finances”.

Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association said: “We have heard time after time that the childcare system in this country isn’t working and is leaving parents and providers behind. Providers are struggling to remain sustainable in an increasingly unpredictable economy, and as more providers are forced to close their doors, parents are left without childcare.

“We cannot deny the impact that a healthy and sustainable childcare sector can have on the outcomes of both children and our economy. As such, we are joining Plum’s call for comprehensive reform of the current system, and an increase to existing funding rates.

“Government funding has plagued our sector for years, and nurseries are left scrambling to find a solution to the shortfall. If the Government wants to follow through on plans to expand the funded offer, we must first address this funding gap.

“The early years are the most crucial time to invest and has proven to have the greatest impact on children’s outcomes. The right investment for children at the earliest stage will give them the greatest chance for success and simultaneously build the foundation for a strong and bright future.”

Financial burden

With the majority of parents with children (69%) aged under 5 using some form of paid childcare, this is an issue which affects families up and down the country. 1 in 5 (19%) are currently paying £800-1200 a month on their paid childcare, with a substantial percentage (10%) spending more than this.

These costs are set to increase further: more than three quarters (77%) of parents have seen their childcare fees recently increase, or expect their fees to increase soon. Meanwhile, 70% stated that childcare entitlement and allowances are inaccessible and/or confusing, making it difficult for parents to make full use of it.

Impact on family life

While some financial sacrifice is an expected part of family life, more than 2 out of 3 parents (69%) are now having to cut costs to afford childcare. This includes having to reduce essential spending as well.

Almost a third (32%) are cutting the cost of their grocery shop, and a similar amount have cut down on savings and investments, putting their financial resilience at risk during a cost of living crisis. 1 in 10 (9%) have even had to spend less on their pets due to childcare costs.

Plum has published its Open Letter to the Government, outlining the company’s proposals for improved access to affordable childcare signed by:

  • Rajan Lakhani, Head of Money, Plum
  • Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Exec, National Day Nurseries Association
  • Adrienne Burgess, Joint CEO, The Fatherhood Institute
  • June O’Sullivan, CEO, London Early Years Foundation
  • Kate Dyson, Founder, The Motherload

Rajan Lakhani adds: “Juggling childcare expenses with other cost of living pressures leaves us having to make very difficult choices. It’s deeply shocking that as a result, parents are reconsidering having more children, or are having to cut back on essential spending like groceries and utilities”.

“The current situation is just not sustainable. Together with our customers and notable voices from across the industry, we’re urging the Prime Minister to act urgently on this issue and properly help families”.

  • The research was carried out online by Research Without Barriers – RWB
  • All surveys were conducted between 13th January 2023 and 17th January 2023
  • The sample comprised 1,000 UK parents of children aged 0-4-years-old
  • All research conducted adheres to the UK Market Research Society (MRS) code of conduct (2019)
  • RWB is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and complies with the DPA (2018)

About Plum

Plum is money, motivated. We’re the ultimate smart money app, with the mission to make wealth building automatic. Founded in 2016 by Victor Trokoudes (ex-Wise), Plum automates parts of personal finance that people find difficult or don’t have time for, helping them save, invest, budget and manage their spending. Plum has over 1.5 million customers across the UK and EU, helping them set aside more than £1.5 billion. The app ranked no.1 among fintechs and no.5 overall in the 2022 Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50, a ranking of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in the UK. Plum is headquartered in London, UK, and has offices in Athens, Greece and Nicosia, Cyprus.

Sign the open letter here

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